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Lone Star on Target

Republican governors should keep pushing back to prevent Lockdowns 2.0.

Somebody just remembered the Alamo.

On Monday, after a lower court struck down Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates, the Texas Supreme Court overturned the ruling in favor of Abbott, showing the more polite members of his party that you can indeed fight back against bureaucratic overreach, and win.

Abbott isn’t exactly a cowboy here; he’s following in Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s boot-clad footsteps, the latter of whom recently banned vaccine mandates on cruise ships, with a flurry of lawsuits following 100 yards behind trying to catch up. Kristi Noem, South Dakota’s governor, banned vaccine passports in the state as early as April. With the trail to shut down Covid-19-related overreach now sufficiently blazed, it’s time for the rest of the red states’ governors to step up to the plate.

Even if only to prevent an eternal, Groundhog Day-esque repetition of 2020, states like Arizona, Georgia, and Tennessee should come out strong against the returning Covid-19 mania as more blue states eye the prospect of yet another lockdown.

The law isn’t the only thing on the side of keeping 2020-era policies in 2020; public opinion is, too. With vaccines now available to anyone over the age of 12, the majority of Republicans and independents oppose any further mandates. A recent Monmouth University poll showed that 73 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of independents opposed reinstating masking and social distancing guidelines—guidelines, to be clear, not even mandates. The same poll showed less than half of Americans are even concerned about contracting new coronavirus variants. And in California, only 49 percent of polled registered voters favor a return to mandating face coverings, down from 60 percent and higher last fall.

The science our technocrats so like to tout is also on the side of liberty. But, more importantly, the liberty we have inherited and claim to love requires some responsibilities of us. These responsibilities are personal and relational—in other words, I should decide to stay home from work if I’m carrying a contagious illness, not some bureaucrat.

The experimentation of science can only measure and mitigate physical risk. It is the job of government, and citizens, to determine which of several risks is of greatest concern: death from Covid-19, for example, or servile dependence on a bloated nanny-state. Protecting our country’s health and safety includes preserving republican liberty, not just managing viral diseases.

With the law, the people, and fresh momentum in favor of resisting future lockdowns, all that remains is for conservatives to follow up in a coordinated fashion. This is the part we are, historically, the worst at.

But as we surpass 18 months of this seemingly endless obsession with a low-risk virus, and the corporate media still pushes everything from double masks to endless booster shots, daily Covid tests, and vaccine passports, the only way to prevent Lockdowns 2.0 is to push back en masse and keep the momentum going. Our governors should lead the charge.

The beginning of the pandemic taught us a lesson we shouldn’t soon forget: Our state leaders are fully capable of taking swift, far-reaching action when it interests them. Texas may be the biggest star over the target with its mask pushback this week, but it shouldn’t be the only one. While 27 of the 50 United States are governed by a Republican, there’s no reason to allow public health bureaucrats to infringe on our civil liberties in these states again.

about the author

Carmel Richardson is the 2021-2022 editorial fellow at The American Conservative. She received her B.A. from Hillsdale College in political philosophy with a minor in journalism. She firmly believes that the backroads are better than the interstate, and though she currently resides in Northern Virginia, her home state will always be Tennessee.

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